Belize rich in birdlife & howling monkeys

Belize rich in birdlife & howling monkeys

“If you want to avoid monkey poop, don’t stand under this strangler fig,” cautions Geraldine Fermin.

My daughters and I are standing in a forest clearing 90 minutes north of Belize City, gazing at a troop of eight black howler monkeys that stretch lazily in the branches of the tree directly above us. The 50 square kilometres they share with some 3,500 other monkeys is loosely known as the Community Baboon Sanctuary, an area comprising seven villages in which more than 200 villagers own land.

Its name can be confusing, since baboon is the creole word for monkey. But in 1985 the area was identified as containing one of the largest populations of black howler monkeys in North Central America. Somehow, a group of concerned citizens persuaded the villagers to refrain from the slash-and-burn practices that were previously destroying the monkeys’ habitat. With this loose promise the black howler monkeys’ longevity has been safeguarded – for now, at least.

The vegetarian primates stare down at us, showing little interest until Fermin, our guide, heads into the forest and returns with one of their favourite foods: the leaves of a trumpeter plant. With some encouragement an adult black howler hangs low enough from her branch to retrieve the offering, munching thoughtfully on the leaves before returning to the safety of higher branches.

The howler monkeys got their name from their howl, a loud, guttural sound that rips through the quiet and can be heard from over a mile away. Usually they roar at the start and end of each day in order to space themselves from other troops, or to warn other troops that they are nearby and don’t necessarily appreciate company. Troops have their own boundaries and territory, with little tolerance for other troops in their immediate areas. But Fermin is somewhat of a howler monkey specialist.

Cupping her hands together she emits a throaty roar that sounds more like a predatory bear than anything else. After a few minutes a monkey purses his lips and howls back, his roar infinitely more resonant and powerful. It’s a primeval sound that catches your attention instantly.

The monkeys’ delicate, jet-black features are so intelligent and human-like that  my daughters are in awe. “They look so much like us,” says one, as she watches a three-month-old primate play with its mother, seeking attention by touching her face. A protective one-year-old nearby tries to play mom by enfolding the infant in its embrace, but the baby moves away, determined to claim adult attention instead. “Can we touch them?” my daughter asks longingly.

“We can get close to them but we don’t ever pet them,” Fermin answers firmly.

It’s early afternoon on a searing hot day in Belize and the humidity has left the monkeys as robbed of energy as their human spectators. Content to lounge in the strangler fig, they will move later in the day into the middle and higher canopies of the forest. The troops eat, sleep and travel together, older females often tending to other infants besides their own in the troop.

It’s women that oversee the Community Baboon Sanctuary as well. Female representatives from the seven villages manage and run the operation, and with funding from a Belize conservation trust they’ve created initiatives to bring income to the villagers and thereby discourage them from resorting to destructive slash-and-burn practices.

Read more: Belize rich in birdlife & howler monkeys

Top Places to Stay in Belize






Belize Tour Companies and Travel Agents

Belize Real Estate Opportunities






June 29, 2018

How the Belize Barrier Reef Beat the Endangered List

An oil drilling moratorium, development restrictions and fishing reform has helped the 200-mile-reef come off Unesco’s endangered world heritage sites...
Read More
June 26, 2018

What the New Alaia Belize Will Look Like

The newest addition to Belize’s fast-growing hotel pipeline is on track for 2020, and now we’ve gotten the exclusive first...
Read More
June 26, 2018

Saving the underwater wonder world of Belize’s reef

Just a stone’s throw off the coast of Belize, brightly colored tropical fish mingle with sharks, manta rays and sea...
Read More
June 26, 2018

RCL Exclusive Your Off-the-Grid Guide to Belize

Belize is the tropical vacation version of a perfect meal. Light appetizer, indulgent main course, decadent dessert and booze …...
Read More
June 17, 2018

Latham: Hard work must be the national symbol of Belize

BELIZE CITY, Belize — Belize is tiny for a country — about the land size of Maryland — but it...
Read More
June 17, 2018

7 Ambergris Caye Restaurants Secret Special Request Options

Once you have lived on Ambergris Caye awhile, you get to know which restaurants have off-menu special request options. Read...
Read More
June 12, 2018

Please Belize Me: Ten Reasons to Put Ambergris Caye on Travel List

After a year of procrastination and poor planning, Belize finally made it on my to do list in 2018. Read...
Read More
June 12, 2018

Autograph Collection Hotels Set to Debut in Belize with the Opening of Alaia

Autograph Collection Hotels, in partnership with owner and developer Andrew Ashcroft, today announced the brand will debut in Belize with the...
Read More
June 12, 2018

5 Reasons to Vacation in Belize this Summer

Summer is the busiest season for travel to Europe. That’s where most vacationers are headed during the months of June,...
Read More
1 2 3 19

Comments

comments

0 Comments

Leave a Comment

Login

Welcome! Login in to your account

Remember me Lost your password?

Don't have account. Register

Lost Password

Register

Close
Please support the site
By clicking any of these buttons you help our site to get better
Banner-1